Picking the Best Handheld AM/FM Radio

Music will always be the most popular form of artistic expression. What better way to listen to music, than with a portable radio? Allow us to help you pick best handheld AM/FM radio for you.

Why choose a handheld AM/FM radio?

The portable radio has been with us since 1965, keeping us connected through music. It is one of the most popular ways to listen to our favorite tunes, wherever we may be. Today’s handheld AM/FM radios offer plenty of useful features to take advantage of. These features include programmable alarms, built in speakers, and charging up through variety of power sources, among others.

What should I look for when picking the best handheld AM/FM radio?

Handheld AM/FM radio features vary from model to model, but here’s some important details to look out for:

  • Wide-band range

The ability to tune in to your favorite radio stations is one of the most important features any radio needs. The wider the range of frequencies a handheld AM/FM radio can tune to, the more stations you can access.

  • Power source

Most handheld AM/FM radios operate with standard AC or battery power sources, but some offer additional options. Picking a portable radio with more than one power source might be the best choice. After all, finding yourself unable to access the right power source might mean being unable to use your portable radio.

  • Battery capacity

The power source is not the only factor relevant to how long you can use your handheld AM/FM radio. The amount and type of batteries powering the portable radio are of equal importance, so longer lasting batteries are better. It’s also good to keep in mind that equipment like digital screens and large speakers can drain your batteries faster.

  • Sound quality

Naturally, the quality of the sound in handheld AM/FM radios is very important. Your favorite music deserves high audio quality, so checking what your portable radio of choice sounds like is a must. Remember: bigger speakers aren’t necessarily better, so listen to your favorite tunes and let the audio quality speak for itself.

Top 7 contenders for the best Handheld AM/FM Radio

1. Sangean PR-D7 BK AM/FM Digital Rechargeable Portable Radio

Sangean PR-D7 BK AM FM Digital Rechargeable Portable RadioSporting a sleek and fashionable design, the Sangean PR-D7 is our top pick for the best handheld AM/FM radio. It is 8 inches long, 4-1/2 inches tall, and weighs 1.3 pounds, therefore making it a very compact portable radio. All controls and buttons are conveniently placed at the front, and the volume dial is intuitively located at the side. The tone of the speaker very well balanced, and it lends itself perfectly to all kinds of audio content.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Pros

  • Digital LCD display

The orange colored digital display stands out, and its back-light makes it easy to see. The screen displays the current radio station and time, and is 3.2 inches by 0.9 inches in size.

  • Multiple radio functions

This radio comes with 10 memory presets, allowing you to select up to 5 AM and 5 FM stations. Moreover, when combined with the Auto Seek feature, it allows you to search for your favorite stations automatically. Furthermore, the PLL synthesized tuning provides pinpoint reception without fade-out.

  • Alarm and sleep systems

You can set up a timer of 15, 30, 45, 60, 90 or 120 minutes, after which the portable radio will turn itself off. This model features a standard radio alarm, which will play the station of your choice at a preset time. The Human Wake System however, will play music while slowly increasing the volume, for a gentler waking experience.

  • AC or rechargeable battery powered

You can use the radio while plugged to an AC outlet, or on the go with six AA size batteries. If you are using rechargeable batteries, you can charge them while your radio is plugged to an AC outlet.

Cons

  • High battery consumption

LCD displays and large speakers consume more energy, so this radio has higher energy consumption compared to its analog counterparts.

Technical specifications

  • 8 inches long, 4-1/2 inches tall
  • 1.3 pounds
  • Powered by AC or 6 AA batteries
  • Full-range, 3 inches built-in speaker
  • Headphone jacket, mono audio
  • Digital back-lit LCD Display, 3.2 inches by 0.9 inches
  • 10 memory presets, 5 in the AM frequency and 5 in the FM frequency
  • PLL Synthesized AM/FM tuner type
  • Radio alarm, and Human Wake System

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2. Panasonic RF-2400D AM/FM Radio

Panasonic Radio Review – RF-2400D AM FM Radio (Silver)The Panasonic RF-2400D makes its entry into the best handheld AM/FM radio list by keeping things classic and simple. The large analog tuner display on front is very clearly visible and it stands out. Likewise, the dial on the side of the portable radio is very prominent, following the same design philosophy. In other words, this portable radio is perfect for those who prefer or grew up with classic portable radios.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Pros

  • Ferrite antenna

Having good radio signal is essential to a pleasant experience when using a portable radio. The ferrite antenna included with this model strengthens the reception of the radio signal, consequently improving your radio-phonic experience.

  • Large analog display

Technology moves forward very quickly, but it’s good to look back at the good old classics. The large radio dial panel is very prominent, so it’s easy to see which frequency you’re tuning to. Plus, an analog display doesn’t consume any battery power, making the batteries last longer.

Cons

  • Sound quality

Despite the large speaker this model is equipped with, the sound quality isn’t quite like that of more modern models. Don’t let that dissuade you however- the sound is still up to standards.

Technical Specifications

  • 3.23 inches tall by 9.21 inches long
  • 1 pound
  • Powered by AC or 4 AA batteries
  • 4 inches speaker
  • Headphone jacket, mono audio
  • Large analog radio dial panel
  • Ferrite antenna

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3. Sangean PR-D5BK AM/FM Portable Radio

Sangean PR-D5BK AM FM Portable RadioThe next contender for the best handheld AM/FM radio title is the Sangean PR-D5BK, a small powerhouse with a wide selection of features. For example, its stereo speakers add a whole new layer of enjoyment to your radio-phonic experience. It is 5.35 inches tall by 10 inches long in size and weighs 2 pounds. It’s equipped with a bright digital LCD display placed at the front along with stylish, silver buttons for its functions. At its sides, this model has both aux in and earphone jackets, a 9-volt socket, a mono/stereo settings slider, and dials for volume and frequency.
 
 
 
 
 

Pros

  • Bright back-lit LCD display

The orange color of the LCD display makes it stand out above other colors, so it makes reading easier. The screen shows the frequency you’re tuned to, in addition to the battery status and if an alarm is set.

  • Full suite of radio functions

This model has 10 memory presets, so you can memorize up to 5 AM and 5 FM stations. Furthermore, the Auto Seek feature makes it so your handheld radio searches for your favorite stations automatically. In addition, the PLL synthesized tuning system gives your radio excellent signal and audio performance.

  • Alarm and sleep systems

This model comes with a sleep timer of 15, 30, 45, 60, 90 or 120 minutes, after which the radio will be powered off automatically. You can set up an alarm and play radio music at the preset time. In addition, it comes with the Human Wake System, which will play music while slowly increasing the volume, for a gentler waking experience.

  • 200 mm ferrite antenna

The large ferrite antenna gives this model powerful signal reception and great sound quality on the go. Likewise, this antenna helps you get good signal even behind obstacles or thick walls in the way.

Cons

  • Not specialized for AM reception

Despite its impressive technical specifications and stereo capabilities, this model might struggle with AM signals. At lower volumes or in areas with particularly difficult reception, AM frequency quality might not perform as desired.

Technical specifications

  • 5.35 inches tall by 10 inches long
  • 2 pounds
  • Powered by AC or 6 C batteries
  • Stereo 2.5 inches speakers
  • Headphone jacket
  • Digital back-lit LCD Display
  • 10 memory presets, 5 in the AM frequency and 5 in the FM frequency
  • Radio alarm, and Human Wake System
  • 200 mm ferrite antenna

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4. Sony ICFP26 Portable AM/FM Radio

Sony ICFP26The next pick for the best handheld AM/FM radio is the Sony ICFP26. It has a very compact and minimalist model, with only a power button, a volume dial, a tuning dial and a frequency selector. It is 4.69 inches tall by 1.50 inches long, weighs 3.04 ounces, and requires only 2 AA size batteries. These modest numbers make it a great pick for when size and weight are concerns. For example, when traveling with luggage or when your work briefcase is heavy enough as it is.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Pros

  • LED tuning and battery indicators

The LED lights at the front of the portable radio give you quick access to the information you need. The LED battery indicator can help you gauge the status of your batteries at a glance.

  • Telescopic antenna

Despite its compact size, this model does not struggle with signal strength thanks to its handy telescopic antenna. This particular type of antenna allows its user to extend or retract its length as needed. Therefore, you can retract it when you put away your handheld radio, or extend it when need a signal boost.

Cons

  • Small tune dial

As a result of the compact nature of this handheld radio, the tune dial is very small. Therefore, some people might find it to be a little too delicate, or too small to accurately operate.

Technical specifications

  • 4.69 inches tall by 1.50 inches long
  • 3.04 ounces
  • Powered by 2 AA batteries
  • Built-in speaker
  • Headphone jacket, mono audio
  • LED tuning indicator
  • LED battery status indicator
  • Telescopic antenna

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5. Sangean PR-D 18BK AM/FM/Clock portable

Sangean PR-D 18BK

The Sangean PR-D 18BK enters the best handheld AM/FM radio list with a stylish design and a wide variety of functions and features. It is 4.2 inches tall by 6.5 inches long, and weighs a mere 12.8 ounces, making it powerful for its size. It comes with a digital LCD display, placed at the front along all necessary buttons. Despite its size, it has a well-balanced tone and good volume, making it a solid choice.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Pros

  • Digital LCD display

This model includes a back-lit, orange colored digital display and shows you important information at a glance. For example, the small icons show if the display has been locked, if an alarm has been set, the battery status, among other details. In addition, the display also shows the radio frequency you’re tuned to as well.

  • Multiple radio functions

This portable radio can memorize 10 frequencies using presets, and can save up to 5 AM and 5 FM stations. Furthermore, rather than searching through individual frequencies, the Auto Seek feature automatically seeks active stations across the entire wide-band. Plus, this portable radio allows you to fine-tune your location for when you go on a trip.

  • Alarm and sleep systems

If you like listening to music as you prepare to sleep, you can set up a timer of 15, 30, 45, 60, 90 or 120 minutes. So, after the set time has lapsed, the portable radio will power itself off. Also, this portable radio allows you to set up dual alarms for different times of the day, and has a snooze function. If you wish to wake up to a radio station, you can also set up the alarm in such way. Additionally, the Human Wake System will play the alarm buzzer at increasing volume for a less abrupt wake up.

  • AC or battery powered

You can use the radio with four AA size batteries, or plugged to an AC outlet. The back-lit LED display makes gauging your remaining batter power simple, so you can switch between power sources as needed.

Cons

  • No dials

A small, convenient size and tight button placement all come with the territory of a handheld radio. However, this particular model has no dials for changing frequencies or the volume. This makes it necessary to hold the radio in place to press the buttons to operate these functions.

Technical specifications

  • 4.2 inches tall by 6.5 inches long
  • 12.8 ounces
  • Powered by AC or 4 AA batteries
  • 4 inches speaker
  • Headphone jacket, mono audio
  • Digital back-lit LCD Display
  • 10 memory presets, 5 in the AM frequency and 5 in the FM frequency
  • Radio alarm, and Human Wake System
  • Telescopic antenna

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6. RunningSnail MD-088s Emergency Hand Crank Self Powered

Utility and self-sufficiency set the RunningSnail MD-088s apart as a contender for the best handheld AM/FM radio title. Firstly, you can power the radio using the included hand crank to keep the battery running. Likewise, you can charge it using the solar panel located on top of the radio during good weather. Secondly, the built-in flashlight can help you remain safe when the lights are out. Furthermore, the micro USB port in this model can keep your phone charged when no AC outlets are available.
 
 
 
 
 

Pros

  • Multiple charging options

Self-sufficiency is of paramount importance during emergencies, and this handheld radio delivers in that front. It is 2.4 inches tall by 5 inches long, with a weight of 7.8 ounces. The solar panel and the hand crank help keep your battery topped off. Not only that, but a micro USB charger port is also included, to recharge your radio more comfortably when possible. Likewise, this port can alternatively be used to charge your phone when an outlet is not available.

  • LED flashlight

Illumination is both important and scarce during natural disasters or unexpected blackouts, but the RunningSnail MD-088s has got you covered. This model has a built-in flashlight, so you and your family can remain safe when you need it the most. Plus, the multiple charging options described above make sure the battery remains charged and ready for such unexpected events.

  • Telescopic Antenna

This handy retractable antenna will help strengthen the signal your radio receives when weather conditions aren’t favorable. For instance, during natural disasters where other methods aren’t as reliable, this antenna helps keep you informed of weather hazards.

Cons

  • High power consumption

Using individual features of this model won’t drain its power quickly, but using them simultaneously will. Naturally, the lamp and phone charging functionalities consume power, so they make the battery run out faster. If you decide to use multiple features of this handheld radio at once, be mindful of the energy consumption.

Technical specifications

  • 2.4 inches tall by 5 inches long
  • 7.8 ounces
  • Powered by micro USB cable, solar power or hand crank
  • Built in speaker
  • 1W LED flashlight
  • Phone charge port
  • Telescopic Antenna

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7. Studebaker Jensen SB2000RB Portable AM/FM Radio

Studebaker Jensen SB2000RB Simplicity and straightforwardness make the Jensen SB2000RB a good pick for the best handheld AM/FM radio. Operating it is very easy, with a large analog tuning dial and a smaller volume dial at the front. The power cord compartment at the bank makes this radio clutter free and easy to store. Plus, the handle at the top of the portable radio makes it easy to carry around.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Pros

  • Straightforward design

Using this portable radio is very intuitive, and anyone using it for the first time can figure it out quickly. It’s perfect for people that prefer simple analog interfaces, and like a product that’s ready to use off the box.

  • Telescopic antenna

This size of this portable radio is not an issue when it comes to getting signal. The telescopic antenna this radio is equipped with makes it so you don’t have to worry much about signal strength. You can expand it whenever a signal boost is needed, or retract it to put the radio away.

Cons

  • Smooth and sensitive dials

Because of how sensitive the tuning dial is, users might find it difficult to lock onto a certain frequency. Likewise, hitting the volume sweet spot might be difficult, as the sensitive dial slides more smoothly than expected.

Technical specifications

  • 3.35 inches tall by 7.28 inches long
  • 1.56 pounds
  • Powered by AC or 4 C batteries
  • 2.25 inches built in speaker
  • Headphone jacket, mono audio
  • Telescopic antenna

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Conclusion

With so many to choose from, deciding which is the best handheld AM/FM radio for you might seem like a daunting task. If you are undecided, consider which of the additional features of these radios you are likelier to use. For example, if stereo audio is a deal breaker for you, then the Sangean PR-D5BK might be the best choice. If you prefer simplicity and require only minimal features, the Panasonic RF-2400D and Jensen SB2000RB might be your best shot. Regardless of which you decide is the best handheld AM/FM radio for you, you will be choosing a reliable partner. So, take one with you, enjoy some good music along the way.

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